MRF Summary Report - December 1967
MOBILE RIVERINE FORCE SUMMARY
ComRivFlotOne / ComRivSuppron - Seven
CAPT Robert S. Salzer relieved CAPT Wade C. WELLS of ComRivFlot One/ComSuppRon
Seven/CTF-117 on 2 December aboard USS Benewah (APB-35). General WESTMORLAND presented
CAPT WELLS with Distinguished Service Medal for his services in organizing and leading the
MRF. In addition, Brigadier General THANH, ARVN 7th Infantry Division Commander, presented
CAPT WELLS with the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with palm for his participation as
Commander Task Force 117 during Operation CORONADO II from 29 July to 4 August 1967.
Phased Operation CORONADO IX continued during the reporting period, with one operation
conducted in Western Dinh Tuong and eastern Kien Phong Provinces during the period 4-6
Movement from Dong Tam to the objective area commenced during the night of 3 December when
the barge mounted artillery accompanied by elements of RAD-92, got underway for the Fire
Support Patrol Base (FSPS) 30 N.M. up river. The artillery was followed by RAD 112/5th
Infantry Battalion VNMC, RAD 111/3rd/47th Infantry Battalion and RAD 91/4th/47th Infantry
RAD-112 fought its way through one B-40/RPG-7 ambush and landed the VNMC Battalion under
fire at 040800 on the upper Rach Ruong on the flank of the enemy and began a day-long
fight with the 502 Local Force Battalion and local guerillas. This action again
highlighted the tenacity, professional competence and aggressiveness of the elite VNMC
battalion. The Vietnamese Marines accounted for the majority of the day's kill and took
the heaviest losses themselves. RAD-112 supported the ground maneuver from the waterway
while taking several RR/B-40/AW hits throughout the day and night.
RAD-111 was also taken under fire en-route to 3rd/47th Infantry Battalion beaches on the
Rach Ruong. The troops were successfully placed ashore and the River Assault Craft
continued to provide close support to the Battalion throughout the action. Two USN
personnel were KIA and 68 wounded during the action.
As a deception measure, the MRB delayed relocation until the boats were in the area of
operation. At 040630H, the MRB got underway from Dong Tam escorted by ASPB's. Use of the
ASPB's reduced the transit time considerably. H&I fires were conducted by the MRF
ships during the first phase of the transit. Upon arrival in the objective area, DEFCON II
was set and maintained to counter the increased threat to the MRB in this area.
During the afternoon of 5 December, RAD 112 backloaded the 5th VNMC Battalion and returned
to Dong Tam to allow the Battalion to re-organize and obtain replacements for the KIA/WIA
RAD's 111 and 91 continued to support the Infantry in the objective area during 5 and 6
December. Units were backloaded commencing PM 5 December and completed in the afternoon of
The MRF relocated to the vicinity of the junction of the Song Tien Giang and Co Chien
Rivers AM 6 December without incident.
This highly successful operation rendered yet another VC haven area unsafe for the enemy
and added substantially to GVN/US presence in the Delta. Enemy KIA, WIA and captured
weapons and material were as follows:
|VC KIA (BC)
||108 (Incl PW)
||Hand Made Pistol
||English Sniper Rifle w/scope
||.45 Cal Pistol
VC Material Captured and Installations
||Pounds of Documents
||Lbs. Dental Equipment
||Rounds SA Ammo
||Small amount of clothing
||Pounds of rice
||Small Medical Caches
PACV's of COSDIV 17 arrived at Vung Tau on 4 December and flew to Dong Tam the same day
without incident. Delta operation and shakedown training was commenced 8 December at Dong
Subsequent phased Coronado IX operations were not as lucrative in terms of enemy KIA as
the 4-6 December period. However, continuing combat pressure and area denial was
maintained by conducting riverine strike operations during the periods of 9-11 and 14-16
December in the Cam Son Secret Zone, Cai Be and Giao Duc Districts and the 470 Base Area.
A new tactic, developed by CTF-117, was employed on 14 December. Faced with the problem of
penetrating the Rach Ba Rai, the scene of murderous ambushes and tenacious VC resistance
in the past, a heavily armored riverine force was tasked to precede the embarked infantry
up the stream. This force, composed of 2 Monitors, 2 ASPB's, and 2 ATC's with APC
Flamethrowers embarked, preceded the 5th Inf Bn, VNMC and the remainder of RAD 112 up the
stream. Their mission was to attempt to provoke an attack from the shores. RAD 112 and the
VN Marines were then to beach just south of any valid contact made by the armored force
and exploit the situation. Although the enemy chose to avoid contact on the 14th, the
employment of a Riverine Armored Reconnaissance Element, or "RARE", in this
manner is felt to be tactically sound and will be utilized again in the future.
The VC continued to avoid any major contact with the MRF during air mobile and riverine
operations in the Cam Son Secret Zone on the 14th and in the 470 Base Area on the 15th and
16th. The MRF relocated again to the junction of the Song Tien Giang and the Co Chien on
the morning of the 14th and operations were conducted from that base. Contact during the
period was light and sporadic.
Four ASPB's from RAD-91 supported night reconnaissance activity on 12-13 December.
Selected 2nd Brigade Army personnel, together with U.S. Advisors and VN irregulars
conducted a series of insertions in the vicinity of Con Cat and Con Qui Islands. The
operation was considered a success by the advisors who expressed pleasure with the
performance of the Army personnel.
The use of a smoke screen as an MRB defensive measure was evaluated on 15 December while
the MRB was anchored in the vicinity of Vinh Long. The test was conducted utilizing smoke
pots on waterborne defensive patrol craft. On signal, the three boats on the northern side
of the MRB activated their smoke pots and continued on their normal patrol pattern. Within
approximately 45 seconds, the MRB was sufficiently obscured to inhibit a successful
attack. Duration of the smoke screen was 10-12 minutes, utilizing only one smoke pot per
boat. During conduct of this test, wind was blowing toward the MRB resulting in partial
exposure of the ships nearest the north bank. This situation could be rectified by moving
the smoke-generating boats to a perimeter further out from the MRB. The ideal smoke
delivering vehicle appears to be the ASPB due to its ability to cover a large area in a
shorter time frame. While it would be best if the screen drifted toward the enemy, the
evaluation conducted 15 December showed that it is still an effective masking device even
under adverse conditions.
Following relocation from the junction of the Song Tien Giang and the Song Co Chien to
Dong Tam on the 17th, TF 117 units commenced movement ashore and to the remaining ships.
The Ammi pontoons were moved to Dong Tam and to the APL-26 and the Westchester County. RAS
11 Staff and the Flotilla Staff moved ashore. RAD 111 moved to the Westchester County. RAD
91 remained in the APL and was joined by RAD 92, CTF-117 shifted his pennant to the
Westchester County at 191200H and staff ashore at headquarters 2nd Brigade, 9th Infantry
The VC welcomed TF-117 units ashore by mounting a mortar attack against Dong Tam Base the
evening of 18 December. 16 rounds of 82mm mortar were fired into the NW section of the
base. There were no casualties.
Colleton (APB-36) departed Dong Tam at 181030H for Subic Bay via Vung Tau for RAV. Benewah
(APB-35) was underway for Vung Tau at 191000H arriving at 191700H for RAV.
Phased Coronado IX operation continued with one operation in Cai Lay District, Northern
Dinh Tuong Province during the period 20-22 December. Movement from Dong Tam to the
objective area commenced during the night of 19 December when elements of RAD 111 lifted
two companies of 3rd/47th to night ambush sites on the Kinh Xan north of Dong Tam. RAD's
91, 111, and 112 provided lift, backlift and support of the 3rd/60th Inf Bn, the 4th/47th
Inf Bn and the 5th Inf Bn, VNMC. In A.M. of 21 Dec, the lead minesweeping boat, A-111-4
was mined while transiting the Xang Canal. Personnel casualties were 3 WIA and 1 KIA. The
boat hull was dished in but not holed and returned to the MRB under her own power. During
the period the VC avoided any major contact with the MRF; therefore, the infantry was
backloaded on the 22nd and returned to Dong Tam.
Two infantry battalions supported by RAD's 91 and 92, moved to separate AO's AM 24
December to implement the Christmas Truce operations. RAD-91 lifted 3/60th Inf Bn to
beaches on the Kinh Gieo Hoa, then established waterborne blocks in the area. The enemy
responded with small arms fire on two occasions during the day. Fire was returned by Army
and Navy units with unknown results. Blocking positions were established in the afternoon
and maintained for the remainder of the truce period (to 251800H). 333 sampans were
searched with no detainees; however 26 VC were observed on the afternoon of the 25th
preparing fortifications on the west bank of the Kinh Giao Hoa. The enemy fired at RAD 91
units but withdrew when assault craft and infantry responded. The 3rd/60th Inf Bn
backloaded AM 26 December and returned to Dong Tam.
RAD 92 lifted 3rd/47th Inf Bn to beaches on the Kinh Song My Tho in the Ap Bac area NW of
Dong Tam. Waterborne blocks were established to complement the maneuver and blocking
positions ashore. This was a major crossing site last year during the truce. However, no
enemy activity was noted during the period of the 1967 truce. Extraction was completed at
240759H and units returned to Dong Tam.
During the Christmas truce, ten ASPB's from RAD 112 were committed in conjunction with
PBR's from TU 116.3.1 for interdiction of VC re-supply routes between Kinh Hoa and Dinh
Tuong Provinces. Although results of the patrols were negative, plans continued for
further evaluation of PBR/ASPB teams.
Another ASPB mining attempt occurred on 26 December when a command detonated mine was
exploded approximately abeam of A-111-1. No casualties were inflicted and only light
damage was caused to the boat.
A riverine operation was mounted on the morning of 28 December which continued to the end
of the month. Operations were focused on the Cam Son/Ban Long area and included water and
air interdiction and saturation patrolling in the Ham Long, Cai Bay, Cai Lay, and Long
Dinh Districts. Operations during this period were characterized by sporadic harassing
small arms fire and no significant contact.
In their first operational employment on 29 December, two PACV's of TG-117-4 inserted
infantry squads into the operational area. Although the troops were successfully lifted to
their destination, both PACV's experienced mechanical and/or electrical difficulties which
resulted in one of the vehicles being air lifted back to Dong Tam by a "Flying
At 0800 on 29 December, CDR H. Hamel III relieved LCDR C.L. Horowitz as COMRIVRON NINE.
The ceremony was conducted in the AO on board CCB-91-1 because of the requirements of
operations in progress.